The Orphanage (2007)
No Secret Stays Locked Away Forever
The Orphanage (2007) - The former orphan Laura raises her adopted son Simón with
her husband Carlos in an old house and former orphanage where she was
raised. Simón is HIV positive and tells Laura that he has five invisible
friends, and she believes they are fruit of his imagination.
The Orphanage (Spanish: El Orfanato) is a 2007 Spanish-language horror film and the debut feature of Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona.
The film stars Belén Rueda as Laura, Fernando Cayo as her husband, Carlos, and Roger Príncep as their adopted son Simón.
The plot centers on Laura, who returns to her childhood home, an orphanage. Laura plans to turn the house into a home for disabled children, but a problem arises when she and Carlos realize that Simón believes he has a masked friend named Tomás with whom he will run away.
After an argument with Laura, Simón is found to be missing. The film's script was written by Sergio G. Sánchez in 1996 and brought to the attention of Bayona in 2004. Bayona asked his long-time friend, director Guillermo del Toro, to help produce the film and to double its budget and filming time.
Bayona wanted the film to capture the feel of 1970s Spanish cinema; he cast Geraldine Chaplin and Belén Rueda, who were later praised for their roles in the film.
The film opened at the Cannes Film Festival on May 20th, 2007. It received critical acclaim from audiences in its native Spain, winning seven Goya awards. On its North American release, The Orphanage was praised by English speaking critics, who described the film as well directed and acted, and noted the film's lack of "cheap scares". New Line Cinema bought the rights to the film for an American remake.
The first draft of the script of The Orphanage was written by Sergio G. Sánchez in 1996. Sánchez was not sure why he chose to write a genre film for the screenplay, as he explains, "I ended up writing a film in the style of those I liked as a kid, movies like Poltergeist, The Omen, and Rosemary's Baby which I ruined on the first VCR we owned at home."
Sánchez revealed the literary influences underlying his writing of the script, such as The Turn of the Screw and Peter Pan.
Sánchez originally wanted to direct the script but he was repeatedly turned down by various Spanish production companies.
While Sánchez was working on the short film 7337 in 2004, he met with director Juan Antonio Bayona and offered him the script to direct.
Bayona accepted the opportunity because he felt that a fantasy themed script like that of The Orphanage would allow him freedom as a director, saying the fantasy genre was a great tool for learning as it "allows manipulation of space and time as we wish or the use of certain camera moves with an immediate efficiency".
Bayona cut parts of the script, including the outcome of the other orphanage children, because he wanted to focus on the character of Laura and what happens to her. To create the film as he wanted, Bayona had to double both the film's budget and the amount of filming time.
To accomplish this, Bayona received help from fellow film director Guillermo del Toro, whom he had met at Festival de Cine de Sitges when del Toro was presenting his film Cronos (1993). Del Toro offered to co-produce the film as soon as he learned about it. For the rest of his crew, Bayona worked with his regular team that he worked with on commercials and music videos.